How Crow Stole The Sun – A Retelling

In the beginning the world was in total darkness.

Crow, a beautiful white bird that lived high on a remote mountain top, and who had existed in this darkness from the beginning, grew very tired of walking and flying around running into things all the time.

whitecrow

One day, Crow found his way to the home of an old man medicine man named Grey Hawk who lived alone with his daughter. Grey Hawk was not a very friendly man. He hated people and permitted no visitors. However, his daughter was very pretty and Crow, feeling sorry for her solitude, decided to introduce himself.

They quickly became the best of friends for Crow could talk as well as any person and the daughter was grateful to have his company. During one of their chats, Crow learned that the girl’s father had a great treasure. Hidden somewhere in the house, the old man had a tiny box concealed within many other boxes that held the light of all the universe within.

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Immediately, Crow vowed he would steal this box and the light within.

Crow thought long and hard on how he would steal the box. He watched Gray Hawk day in and day out, learning his habits, where he went, and for how long. Finally when he was certain he’d not be caught, he flew into Gray Hawk’s house. He looked and looked and found a box tucked under a pile of Buffalo hides. Being very clever, Crow opened one box after another, each one smaller than the last.

The smallest box sparkled from the inside out, unable to entirely hold all the light within. Crow knew then he’d found the one.  With it tucked in his beak, Crow flew as high into the sky as he could from the home, tiny sparks of light streaming from the box as he went, until he reached the secret mountain where he lived.

Looking back, Crow noticed that the pieces of light he’d spilled had risen high into the once totally black sky. Crow named them Stars. This was the first light.

Crow rested for the night and when he woke, he opened the box. Inside he found a glowing ball of fire. It was from this Crow believed the sparks now called Stars had come. Crow grasped the ball in his beak and once more flew up as high as he could go to place the ball in the sky among the Stars. Because it was so much bigger, brighter and heavier than the sparks that had fallen from it, Crow wasn’t able to get is as far. This he named the Sun.

By the time Crow returned home, the day had passed and the Sun had sunk below the horizon and the world was dark again save for the Stars. Crow returned to the box and found a second ball. This one was much smaller and not as bright. He took the ball into his beak and flew as high as he could. He placed it in on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun so that it could be seen at night with the Stars. This he named the Moon.

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Satisfied, Crow went home and rested.

The next day when the Sun rose, Crow peaked into the box one more time. It still wasn’t empty. Inside was a stick that had been set on fire by the great heat of the Sun. Beside it, was a bulging water skin.

Remembering Grey Hawk’s daughter and how hard she worked to draw water up from the well, Crow took the water skin and flew out from his mountain. As he went, water from the skin fell to the earth, filling the rivers, lakes, and oceans. All the People and animals that had once wandered in darkness and dug for water were grateful to Crow for all he’d done. Grey Hawk was not.

Grey Hawk was furious and had a plan of his own to get rid of thieving Crow once and for all. He couldn’t return the Stars, Moon, Sun, or Waters to the box, but he hoped he’d still be able to take Fire back. As Crow flew overhead to return to his mountain, Grey Hawk secretly followed him on foot. It was a long, hard journey for the Medicine Man, but he still had one more trick up his sleeve.

When night fell and Grey Hawk knew Crow would be sleeping, the Medicine Man climbed the great mountain where the bird lived. Near sunrise, he found Crow in a huge nest at the very top. In the middle of the nest sat the box from which glowed the light and heat of Fire. Crow lay with his white wings wrapped protectively around it.

Grey Hawk inched his way in, closer and closer, and was just about to snatch the glowing twig when the Sun rose full and bright. Crow opened his eyes and immediately saw the old man and knew what he was after. The bird snatched the burning stick from the box and took to the sky as fast as he could. It was then that Grey Hawk revealed his final secret. He transformed into an actual Hawk and flew after Crow as fast as his great wings would take him.

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Crow was shocked! Grey Hawk was much bigger than him, but not as agile. Crow rose and fell, darting left and right, doing all in his power to out maneuver his enemy. As he flew, smoke from the twig blew back, coating his once white wings until they were completely black. Crow didn’t care.

Hawk chased him still, snapping at the fiery twig and Crow every chance he got. Crow darted down between some rocks and accidentally dropped the twig. Fire fell even faster than Hawk or Crow could fly to catch it. It struck a pile of rocks, darkening them instantly then was snuffed out, seemingly lost forever.

The two birds screamed, squawked, and cawed at each other in rage! On seeing how the once beautiful white Crow was now as black as the sky had once been before stealing the treasure, Hawk laughed. “Now you are a black and ugly thing of darkness. No one will ever love you again!” the Medicine Man shouted. And that, he figure, was punishment enough. He flew away, thinking that no one would ever admire Crow for his beautiful plumage again.

Crow didn’t care. He’d given the People the Sun, Moon, and Stars. He’d given them the Oceans, River, and Lakes. But he was sad he’d not been able to give them Fire, too.

Many long days and nights passed and eventually Crow began to miss the old man’s daughter. He hadn’t dared to visit her in all this time, fearing the Medicine Man would try to kill him. But, one day he could stand it no more and flew from the mountain, down into the valley, and came to rest in a tree by a sparkling stream near where she lived.

As luck would have it, she was just coming from the cottage with a large kettle full of water in her hand. Crow waited and watched as she carried the kettle to a pile of sticks stacked nearby. Next, she pulled out her dagger and a shiny black stone. The daughter crouched, scraped the steel edge of the dagger to the stone and sparks flew into the dry tinder. Within minutes, there was a fine fire for cooking.

Too curious to stay away any longer, he swooped down.

The daughter was delighted and surprised to see Crow as Grey Hawk had told her Crow had been killed. Crow told her all that had happened and then about how he’d lost Fire among the rocks. The daughter laughed and said, “No, it wasn’t lost at all.” She showed him the rock and knife and how when the two were rubbed together, they made fire. “So you see, you gave us Fire, too!”

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To this day, Crow and Hawk remain enemies and you can still see and hear them fighting in the sky. And despite having lost his white feathers, Crow is much beloved by the People for it was he who brought them so many good things.

Author’s Note: I make no claims to the originality of this tale, only in the creation of this particular version. I’ve based it on several other pre-existing stories.

Title Image from: Deviant Art – Sackofwetrabbits – “Crow Steals The Sun”

Speaking Of Crows : Part 3

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you’ll know I’ve been working on making friends with the small murder of Crows that resides near my house. And what better way to befriend a wild animal than to feed it?

Last year I noticed they were over at the neighbors quite often, eating under her front pine tree. Not sure what she was putting out there, but I was eager to have some ebony-winged visitors of my own. After some research I found out that they really like peanuts in the shell and pet kibble so started tossing a bit of that into the side yard between my house and said neighbor.

It didn’t work all that well. The Crows would come, but they acted very, very uncomfortable about the location I’d chosen. I suspect it had to do with the big forsythia bush and the woodpile being fine places for cats to hide. Especially after I saw our local prowler out there lurking in the bush, eyeballing the array of bird feeders my son maintains.

After some consideration, the feeding spot was moved to the back corner of the property, some twenty feet from the new deck we put up just before the wedding in August. Not so many hiding places for the cat and a comfy place for me to sit and watch my future feathered friends should they ever got over their obscene level of paranoia.

More research had taken place between the start of the experiment and then and I’d learned to use some sort of call every time I went out to scatter the goodies.  I considered an actual Crow call, but was quickly talked out of that idea when my fellow Corvid enthusiasts said it probably wasn’t a good idea if I lived in an area that permitted Crow hunts. Sadly, I do. In fact, I pretty much refuse to patronize a certain bar in nearby Pennsylvania because they sponsor a Crow hunt every year. Shame… it’s a nice bar, but I just don’t feel right giving money to a place that encourages the senseless killing of my totem animal.

Be that as it may … the feeding place was moved and in a way I allowed the Crows to train me at first. I’d wait until I heard them cawing away in the front maple tree. That told me they were nearby and that they’d see me, unless they flew away, of course, which they did for awhile. Thus, leaving the peanuts to the ever-vigilant Blue Jays instead. Blue Jays are Corvids as well, so I can’t really get too annoyed at them for being clever like that. From my studies, I knew the Crows watched the Blue Jays, so I’ve let it slide and besides, running back out there shooing away the Jays won’t encourage the Crows that it’s a safe place to fly down and feed.

Since returning from our honeymoon, the tactics have been changed slightly. I’ll sometimes still go out if I hear the Crows in the tree, but not always. And when I do, I’ll look to see where they are – usually in the front maple watching and waiting – give the whistle, rattle the plastic dish, then toss out the goodies. I want them to associate that whistle with food, Pavlov’s Crows, if you will.  Just this past week, I’ve found that I can go out on the back deck, shake the dish and whistle and eventually, the Crows will arrive. It’s slow and not always guaranteed. On Saturday I went out three times and when no Crows came the first two times, I went back inside after fifteen minutes without putting the food out. This did not sit well with the Jays, but they’ll get over it, I’m sure.

My third attempt was a success. Maybe the first two times they just weren’t within hearing range of the whistle, but the third time, within ten minutes after stepping out the back door and whistling, the first Watcher Crow came to perch in the maple before moving closer to pine beside the one I feed them under. I waited a bit, whistled again and then another showed up. Of course, the Jays were already bouncing around in the tree oh-so-eager. I’m surprised they don’t dive bomb me while I have the dish in hand.

Knowing the Crows won’t come down until I walk away, I had no choice but to toss out the nuts and kibble. They had seen me, they heard the whistle, they knew I had the food and well, it was up to them to get rid of the Jays if they wanted to get any of it.

They are getting braver and don’t fly away quite so quickly as they used to when I step out. In fact, the Watcher Crow doesn’t even move from his perch now. He, well, watches. When he deems the coast is clear, then they will come down and feed. And, when I first started there were only three Crows. This weekend, there were four. Maybe Jr. got himself a girlfriend?

It’s going to be tougher now with the time change in effect. Crows go to roost before sunset and now I won’t be getting home from work until after that. Kind of sucks. This leaves me only the weekends or days I have off to try and call them in. I’ll keep at it though and post another progress report in a few more months… sooner if something phenomenal happens!

Caw, caw, caw!

Speaking of Crows : Part 2

When last I wrote of the crows, they (and the starlings and blue jays) were nibbling on stale whole grain Cheerios and left over popcorn.

I’ve been doing more research on my favorite bird since then and quickly learned that not only are they keen on in-shell peanuts, but dog and/or cat kibble. When grocery day came, I bought both and hoped for the best. If it didn’t work, I’d only be out about $10.

For nearly a week now I have been putting out 8-10 in-shell peanuts and a handful of dog kibble in the same place I’d put the popcorn and Cheerios, the side lawn just beyond the regular bird feeders. Consistency is important and I hoped that the crow family would eventually come around again.

When I heard the crows nearby in the morning as I was packing my lunch for work, I’d put the food in a plastic dish and shake it to make noise as I walked out to the feeding spot. I could tell SOMETHING was eating the peanuts as the shells would be cracked and scattered, but wasn’t sure what.

This morning, it was business as usual. I heard the *caw-caw-caw*, went and got my little dish and headed out. Within ten minutes, one of the crows had arrived. He was very, very wary – doing a little side step shuffle thing before grabbing one of the peanuts, hopping back quickly, then carrying it out a bit further into the lawn to crack it open. He came back time and time again though, taking some kibble then a peanut each time. Eventually he was joined by another crow who seemed a bit less timid. Of course, by then, most of the peanuts were gone, but it looked like he found one still left as well as noshing on some of the kibble.

I’m very excited about the progress. At least now I know that they know the food is there and I will continue with my efforts to make them my friends.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Campbell-Smith : The Corvid Blog :  http://coyot.es/thecorvidblog/

Speaking of Crows…

After years of dreaming, I have what I call ‘my crows’ now.

Saturday morning I tossed 1/3 of a bag of stale Cheerios out into the lawn, about 25 feet from the kitchen sink window along with three very blackened bananas. My hope was to entice the crows I’ve seen around, but that never seem to get very close. I had no idea if they were into bananas but the Cheerios seemed promising. I went out to the kitchen around 4:30 to start dinner and much to my delight, three crows were out there eating the Cheerios. Even better, it appeared to be a family unit of mom, dad, and baby though baby was just as big as mom and dad.

S/He kept hopping after one or the other squawking and open-mouthed while doing that wing-flapping FEED ME thing. Mom and Dad were having none of that. The food is right there, buddy. Help yourself! Junior was quite persistent until one of the parents had had enough of that nonsense, nudged its offspring rather roughly and flew away with an annoyed “Knock it off,” squawk. Junior seemed rather confused at this and turned around to find himself alone as Parent #1 had hopped off quite a ways during the ruckus. I’d like to say it was Mom that got pissed and stormed off, while Dad went about his business from a safe distance. Mom eventually returned and the family unit lingered a bit longer, one taking a few pecks at the offered bananas but otherwise, not much interest.

Saturday night I indulged in some popcorn and intentionally left a couple handfuls over to be put out in the same area as the Cheerios. Knowing crows are early risers, I’d planned on tossing the leftovers out early, but didn’t make it until around 8:30 or so. Way too late. Still, I remained hopeful and put them out.

Around 4:00, again, as I was doing some dinner prep, I looked out the kitchen window and there were ‘my crows’ checking out the popcorn, picking up more of the Cheerios and from what I could tell, still ignoring the bananas.

At 6:30 this morning while putting my lunch together and sipping coffee, I looked out. Guess who was there? Yup, “my crows” and I think maybe one was showing more interest in one of the bananas. Sadly, I had nothing new to put out before I left for work.  They are so much fun to watch and maybe one of these days I can be out there when they land and feed instead of 25 feet away and hidden behind two layers of glass. They’re pretty jumpy. One even did an impressive hop when my son coughed upstairs in his bedroom so this will take time.

I’m happy to watch them from afar for now, but I think it’s time to buy a big bag of peanuts in the shell and start putting a few of those out every morning. I’m told crows really like peanuts in the shell and it’s much more appealing to me than tossing road kill out there.